Saturday, January 8, 2011
I haven’t blogged in a while, but winter is here, we have passed the solstice and the time to contemplate our existence is nigh. It is January, the slowest time of the year. Nights are long and the reflection of the fireplace around the room dances hand in hand with thoughts of “what if’s” and “if onlys”.
The guests we have now are often seeking solitude, separation from their hectic life, and even distance from their children. Two months of “holidays” have depleted the emotional reserves of many. Our task is to offer a few short hours of contentment.
I have talked here of contentment before. It is our mantra, our goal every day to set the stage for our guests to find a little peace, a little love, a measure of understanding. If we do our jobs right, that place is the Walnut Street Inn. Whenever I have a blue day I go into one of the rooms, find a comfortable reading chair with good light, and read one of the Guest Journals. These are just books with empty pages; many guests are moved to record a thought. The next guest finds the journal and is moved by the words of the first to share a private thought or witness about his or her stay. Some praise their spouse for planning the retreat. Some share a poem or even draw a picture to record the moment. Some thank us for offering what they needed, that moment of contentment with their lives.
The need for public witnessing is in us all and is a way to clarify a thought, to solidify an emotion, live in the moment. By sharing it with strangers, we testify to the world of the love for our spouse, the peace of the moment, or whatever emotion is important to us. By sharing, it makes the moment more real, more important and eternal.
These guests’ words reassure me like a hug, and remind me of our purpose here and what our charge is each day. It points out, when we get it right, that we make a difference in our guests’ lives. We set the stage for stability to take root, for love to be rekindled, for peace to quiet the voices in our heads. It is still up to the guests to seek, and they come looking whether they know it or not. When they find it here, we sense their pleasure in the moment at the breakfast table, in the parlors, or soaking in the winter sun on the back porch. We see they have “landed,” if only for a short time, from the hectic life that we all lead out there in the real world.
I’ll share a few snippets here from one of the many journals that have been filled through the years, hoping you can understand what I am trying to say.
“We came in town for a wedding, but we will leave with a special set of memories all our own…”
“I always thought Bed & Breakfast Inns were for couples, but as a single person, I found that I felt less “alone” in this home away from home…”
“I am grateful tonight to be tucked in all warm and cozy. I’m grateful for the love of my family and friends; for my home, health and job. I am grateful for my faith…”
“It was only a few hours drive, yet I feel worlds away from the hectic everyday life of work/family. Just walking in the front door and being greeted…, you begin to relax and feel like you are in another world, like a dream come true.”
“I was completely taken away and surprised, both with the proposal and the lovely accommodations. Thanks Walnut Street Inn for a fantastic, memorable time.”
“There are some experiences in life that are so delectably succulent and infused with life and pleasure that you know, at the moment, this feeling, these impressions, the sensations of the experience will be with you forever, in good and in bad. …I am relaxed, mellowed, vibrating, exhilarated. Blessings to the folks who have created this lovely space. Kudos to the folks who invented that jet tub!”
Obviously these guests were in search of something when they came here. We are not the perfect place for all guests. We are not the most luxurious B&B in the country. But we do strive to be what our guests are looking for. And that, more often than not, is contentment.
Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut StreetSpringfield, MO 65806